Kroes: I'm no bank slayer

EU COMPETITION chief Neelie Kroes yesterday hit back at critics who have slammed her decision to enforce punishing break-up rules on Europe&rsquo;s bailed-out institutions, insisting she is not a &ldquo;bank destroyer&rdquo;.<br /><br />Speaking in Amsterdam, Kroes &ndash; nicknamed &ldquo;Steely Neelie&rdquo; for her ruthless approach &ndash; said: &ldquo;Our goal is not to break up banks. I am not some kind of bank destroyer. I am actually trying to help the banks to make the right decisions.&rdquo;<br /><br />The remarks come just over a week after Kroes unveiled the most radical shake-up of the UK banking sector in living memory, ordering Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group to sell off some of their prized assets and giving the green light to an extra &pound;40bn injection of taxpayer money into the banks.<br /><br />As part of the deal, Lloyds will dispose of 600 branches, equivalent to a 4.6 per cent share of the retail market. RBS will divest over 300 branches, plus its lucrative insurance and card payment arms and a majority stake in commodity trading firm RBS Sempra.<br /><br />RBS chief executive Stephen Hester has made no secret of his concern over the impact of the far-reaching plans on the bank&rsquo;s future success.<br /><br />The news came as it emerged shareholders in RBS are up in arms over the appointment of the bank&rsquo;s chairman Sir Philip Hampton to the board of miner Anglo American as a non-executive, arguing the role will prove a distraction from his responsibilities at the bank.